Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Bordeaux, important French port on the garonne River leading to the gironde Estuary on the west coast. Bordeaux gives its name to a wine region that includes the vineyards of the Gironde département and, as such, the wine region that produces more top-quality wine than any other, from a total vineyard area that ballooned in the mid 2000s to about 124,000 ha/276,760 acres but was down to about 112,000 ha/276,570 acres by 2014, divided among about 6,800 increasingly impoverished producers as the price gap widened between the most famous wines and the rest. Bordeaux has a higher proportion of large estates than any other French wine region, and produces more of the world’s fine wine and trophy wines than anywhere else. The most famous examples represent less than 5% of the region’s total production, however, and Bordeaux’s most pressing long-term problem has been selling the other 95% profitably. The best red bordeaux, known by the British as claret, are characterized by their subtlety and ability to evolve after years, sometimes decades, of bottle ageing. The worst can be thin and evanescent. The producers in between suffer because there are simply too many of them to make much impact.